Meteorites: How meteorites become super destructive?

cosmos Interesting science

Can meteoroids falling on Earth really be so dangerous that they become the cause of Mass Extinction? This question has remained a puzzle for scientists for a long time. This puzzle was even more complicated because some meteorites caused great destruction, but other meteorites more giant than that could not do so. In the new study, the study of remnants from 44 meteorite collisions over the past 600 million years has found that the dispersion of potassium feldspar material into the air was more of a role in turning the collision into a catastrophe, not just the crash.

When such mass extinctions occurred, they were caused by the post-impact winter season in which massive dust covered the sky in such a way that the light coming from the sun stopped reaching the Earth. . Due to this, the trees and plants started dying, after which the animals eating them. This process continued till the top of the food chain. From this, it seems that large meteorites will have the ability to blow more dust, ash, or gas into the sky. This would have had a more significant or broader impact on the biosphere globally.

Surprisingly, nothing like this has been seen in the Earth’s geological record. Sedimentologist Chris Stevenson of Liverpool University says that it was surprising when we looked at the data together. When Earth’s fourth-largest collision (Impact) took place, which made a 48 km wide crater. Then life went on as usual, but a crash related to its half-sized cavity brought a state of great destruction. Collision winters usually last only a few years, but their dust remains in the sky for a million years.


In this study, published in the Journal of the Geological Society, geochemist Mathieu Pankhurst of Spain’s Technological and Renewable Energy Institute and his colleagues analyzed the dust emanating from 44 meteorite collisions (Impact) the last 600 million years. Stevenson explained that by estimating the constituents of the mineral coming out of the meteorite in this way, his team showed that each time, whether small or large, whenever a meteorite struck a rock rich in potassium feldspar, it was associated with a meteorite impact. It was from the incident, and it happened every time in the last 60 crore years.

Researchers said that feldspars are aluminum silicate rocks that crystallize from magma. They are present in 60 percent of the Earth’s crust. Potassium feldspar is commonly found in many soils and does not react like other materials dispersed in the air after meteorite collisions. It is safe and is a non-reactive chemical. But this substance can change the structure of clouds.

The researchers found that once the impact on the atmosphere is less, then whatever remains in the air begins its work. If it is everyday soil dust, the climate system is balanced again, but if potassium feldspar is in the air, one of two conditions can happen on Earth. The ice crystals in the clouds will be more than the water droplets so that the light will not pass through the clouds to the Earth as in clouds with more water droplets.

In such a situation, the cooling becomes even more due to the presence of icy crystals. And climate sensitivity increases, making volcanic eruptions more likely. Only a few of the world’s most significant volcanic events are associated with mass extinctions, but they were definitely related to potassium feldspar in the atmosphere. Surprisingly, it is not directly harmful to life. Researchers say that the cause of the deadly catastrophe events was a delicate change in atmospheric functions.